Tyre labelling update – April 2013

by chris sanders on 5th April 2013

Tyre labelling – what is that? The official line is as follows:

‘The goal of tyre labelling is to improve the safety, the economic and environmental efficiency of road transport by promoting fuel-efficient and safe tyres with low noise levels.’

In reality it meant that from late 2012 tyre sellers (be that traditional retail shops or online) had to make their customers aware of these pretty new labels that are printed on the tyres they are about to buy. You will be familiar with the labels, they look like the ones you see on fridges and washing machines.

The EU in their wisdom created these labels in order to give consumers more information and chose the following categories to be tested and displayed; fuel efficiency, noise & wet grip. Now here at which tyres we are all about increasing tyre awareness and safety but we do have some issues with the labels. Tyremen in Hull wrote a great article which can be seen here, and questions how effective these labels are at giving a clear picture on a tyres performance. In review here were their thoughts on the different areas of the tyre labels:

Wet grip

Purely demonstrates straight line wet braking ability! Recent tyre tests have shown that tyres with A/B ratings on the labels for wet grip actually score poorly overall in a range of wet tests. However this data does still have its uses as the difference between A and G equates to around 18m in stopping distance.

Fuel efficiency

Displays the tyres rolling resistance which has an impact on fuel consumption. The difference between each category means a reduction/increase in fuel consumption of between 0.41 and 0.56 mpg. Fuel is pretty expensive these days and every little saving helps so this data should be considered.  However the reduction in rolling resistance is achieved by changing the tyres characteristics and it appears to be the case that this can be to the detriment of wet weather performance. Tyre tests have shown that the tyres with the best label values for fuel efficiency are the worst performers in the wet, so a balanced view is required.

Noise

This displays how loud a tyre is externally! This one is all about the EU trying to reduce traffic noise and we think is rather misleading as most drivers are concerned with how much noise there is inside the cabin. In fact it appears that the tyres with low noise values on the tyre labels have high internal noise so this is really one to watch out for!

Upon tyre labelling being introduced many of the tyre manufacturers rushed out to make tyres with as close to A A ratings as they could. This led to a bunch of ‘label tyres’ that upon further testing appear to offer short straight line braking, low rolling resistance and little else. This is because a tyre can’t do everything perfectly, if you make it excel in a certain performance area then something else has to give. Tyre dealers are presented with spider diagrams that display the performance of a particular tyre.

In this example they show a standard tyre that does everything reasonably well. They will have then done a bunch of research and development to make a sports tyre with superb dry traction. The touring tyre then has a different focus of comfort, quiet (internal) noise and increased tread wear. This is all achievable but to the detriment of handling and traction.

Now maybe you can see that if a tyre is excellent in 2 areas (such as wet braking and fuel efficiency) then something has to suffer. Essentially an A A tyre is going to be a poor all round performer.

In late 2012 there were a bunch of manufacturers that were guilty of making tyres that were very label focused such as Pirelli with the  P7 Cinturato Blue, the Bridgestone Ecopia EP150 & the Michelin Energy Saver +.

However as we move into Spring 2013 things have settled down a little. The whole system now has an enforcement agency in the National Measurement office, the guys that look after weights & measures, so in theory public awareness should increase.

Also some tyre manufacturers are using the labels as an opportunity to make great products. Goodyear have just launched the efficient grip performance, which not only has good label data, but also seems to perform well in a range of conditions as highlighted by some of the 2013 summer tyre tests. If things develop in this way then we could end up with a range of tyres from the leading manufacturers that offer great performance in addition to having less environmental impact.

Happy days!

 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael April 5, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Pedantic I know but I cant help it :-)
Tyremen in Hull have wrote a great article which can be seen

should be”have written” or Hull wrote” missing out the have.
Nice piece though and all motorists should take an interest in what their tyres are capable of.I have ridden a motorcycle for decades so perhaps more aware of their importance !

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cheap tyres online australia April 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm

The researchers states that tyres are responsible for uotp 20 to 30 % of vehicles’ fuel consumption. So , the purchase of good quality tyres allows fuel consumption to be reduced considerably and consequently less CO2 to be produced. This is why labelling presenting detailed information on tyres is of prime importance for the protection of the environment.

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Which Tyres April 16, 2013 at 8:04 am

Do tyres really account for up to 30% of vehicle fuel consumption? I struggle to believe that is the case, but would certainly be interested in reading the article! Even if they did, then my point just highlights that the difference between each letter on the labelling equates to an incredibly small amount of fuel consumption. Thanks for your input though.

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